Ah Luigi. Normally the forgotten brother, this year Nintendo has sought to change that with what I’m dubbing ‘Super Luigi Time’, starting here with a welcome return to a Gamecube original that many loved and appreciated way back when. I must admit though, I never played the original game. For one reason or another, the Gamecube era slipped past me without as much fanfare as previous Nintendo consoles, but that’s an error I’ve since rectified.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 begins with a rather colourful introduction that, while it does drag on just a little bit, eventually gets us back into the mission of hunting and catching ghosts with what can only be described as a Proton Pack Junior. Don’t take that the wrong way, I’m certainly not suggesting that Luigi’s most important tool is a weak piece of kit, but you have to admit it’s as if the Ghostbusters ran out of funding and resorted to vacuum cleaning.
“Luigi really is a delight to play as. An unlikely and scared hero he may be, he’s got far more character under that green hat than some give him credit.”
You’ll be slowly fed all the important details you need in order to progress through the first mansion’s tricks and traps, getting to grips with the rather effective control scheme and early puzzle mechanics. Each mansion is split into levels this time, so there’s no real free roaming to be had. Whilst it would have been nice to just roam through the mansion at your own leisure, it allows Nintendo to add or modify the mansion every time you boot into a new level. It’s unfortunate, though, that it slightly detracts from the fun of the game by having to go back to a menu every few minutes.
Things start to pick up once you’ve received the likes of the dark light, an attachment that reveals hidden objects or ghosts, as puzzles become increasingly more creative and enjoyable. There’s also a healthy variety in the ghosts themselves, each with a different tactic to evade your ghost hunting skills or to take your health down a peg or two. It keeps things fresh and entertaining when a new ghost appears to mix things up, as do the boss fights which combine puzzle solving and ghost hunting effectively.
Perhaps the mansion’s greatest asset is its secrets. There’s a ton of hidden items to hunt down, from gems to ghost dog bones. At the end of every level you’ll get a breakdown of what you’ve found and what there actually is, and for the life of me I still can’t find everything. Thankfully you can go back into earlier levels to increase your overall result, almost doubling the play time if you really want to search through the mansion with a fine toothed comb.
But for all the action and hidden surprises, there’s just one thing that sets Luigi’s Mansion 2 apart from everything else on the 3DS right now, and that’s Luigi himself. Whether it’s his reactions to the various ghosts as they appear, the shudder of fear as he lightning catches him by surprise or (my personal favourite) humming the theme tune in a failed attempt to keep himself calm, Luigi really is a delight to play as. An unlikely and scared hero he may be, he’s got far more character under that green hat than some give him credit.
As 3DS games go, Luigi’s Mansion 2′s presentation is right up there as one of the most impressive of the lot. It’s not an HD experience, this is purely an animated cartoon than a realistic portrayal of a haunted mansion, but there’s a sense of satisfaction when the thunder crackles in the background as lightning casts shadows across the walls. In fact, the lighting effects are probably its greatest strength, helping to sell Luigi’s fear of the dark or the reveal of a new ghost type. The 3D also provides a meaningful pop, you can really tell the team thought long and hard about item placement and level design to get the most out of the added tech of the handheld, in much the same way Super Mario 3D Land did.
To wrap things up, there’s a multiplayer mode included within the package, though I doubt you’ll spend a lot of time here. It’s a fun diversion from the main game, but the meat of the title is a single player experience and that’s exactly what it should be, in my eyes.